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Raymond v. Raymond is Usher's sixth studio album that was released on March 26, 2010 by LaFace Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Monstar 5:01
  2. Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home) 3:44
  3. There Goes My Baby 4:41
  4. Lil Freak (featuring Nicki Minaj) 3:54
  5. She Don't Know (featuring Ludacris) 4:03
  6. OMG (featuring will.i.am) 4:29
  7. Mars Vs Venus 4:22
  8. Pro Lover 5:02
  9. Foolin' Around 4:11
  10. Papers 4:21
  11. So Many Girls 4:36
  12. Guilty (featuring T.I.) 3:44
  13. Okay 3:15
  14. Making Love (Into The Night) 3:36

Album BackgroundEdit

In December 2005, Usher became romantically involved with stylist Tameka Foster, whom he then married on August 3, 2007. Foster gave birth to Usher Raymond V later that year.

Usher released his fifth studio album, "Here I Stand' on May 13, 2008. It featured more mature, adult-oriented themes, influenced by his marriage to Foster; this thematic shift ultimately led to the album becoming less successful with fans and sales than his previous work

A year and a half later on June 12, 2009, following his marriage, he filed for divorce from Foster, with no initial reasoning.

Once the divorce was finalized on November 8, 2009, Usher explained that there was "no reasonable hope of reconciliation" and their marriage was "irretrievably broken"; both Foster and Usher had been living separately since July 2008. The divorce was highly documented by the press.

Prior to the filing, Usher relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009 to begin working on his sixth studio album. The album was recorded at the Studio at the Palms in Vegas and Atlanta.

The poducers involved with its production included Jermaine Dupri, The Runners, Ester Dean, Polow da Don, RedOne, Jim Jonsin, |Danja, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Bangladesh and Tricky Stewart.

Initially under the title Monster, the album's name was changed to "Raymond v. Raymond", taking inspiration from the 1979 drama film, "Kramer vs. Kramer."

"Raymond v. Raymond" mirrors Usher's 2004 "Confessions" as a self-confessional album, with several recordings from the album inferring to Usher's marriage.

Jive Records urban music president and album executive producer Mark Pitts also conceived the album as a return to the themes of the latter album; "based on what happened with Confessions", Pitts wanted to reproduce its success.

Pitts told The New York Times that "Usher had a rough couple years", elaborating: "The scrutiny of everything going on, he was worrying too much about what people were thinking. We felt like we had to get his swagger back. Dust off the bed and get it popping and young again."

Pitts noted that it was important "Raymond v. Raymond" addressed the rumors that circulated around Usher's marriage.

The latter reiterated that the album is not specifically about his marriage, and that it is "about the tug-of-war between man and woman, and the honesty a man has to have."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Raymond v. Raymond" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 329, 107 copies, making it Usher's third consecutive US number-one album. It also topped Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for 7 consecutive weeks.

The album was certified platinum by the RIAA.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Raymond v. Raymond" received generally mixed reviews from music critics.

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 57, based on 16 reviews, which indicates "generally mixed or average reviews".

AllMusic editor Andy Kellman was ambivalent towards its lyrical content and stated, "Many of the songs on the album have to be taken on their own, stripped of context; otherwise, determining what applies to Usher's real and fantasy lives can be problematic".

Tyler Fisher of Sputnikmusic found the album thematically inconsistent and called it "a predictably unfocused album".

Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine called it "consistently uninspired, with each song showcasing an incredibly gifted performer grown wearyingly complacent".

Camilla Pia of NME observed "quite a bit of forgettable bravado babble".

Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot viewed that its "songs about 'So Many Girls' and the burden of being a 'Pro Lover' on the prowl" inversely affect the mature-themed songs, writing "It's the kind of lacerating perspective that adulthood brings, but Usher's too busy chasing his past to fully embrace it".

Tyler Lewis of PopMatters called it a "cynically commercial and desperate album" and viewed it as a "pale imitation" of Usher's album, "Confessions."

The Village Voice's Rich Juzwiak called its confessional nature "wan" and compared its songs negatively to "pick-up lines: Their immediate success varies, but none are particularly memorable".

In a positive review, Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times felt that the album emphasizes "the wily lothario of yore" in response to "Usher fans disappointed by the change in direction his wedding inspired".

Andrew Rennie of Now wrote, "his sixth album proves that his ability to make grown-up hits is stronger than ever."

Billboard's Gail Mitchell called it "a more cohesive collection" than Here I Stand, "centered on the different sides that comprise the artist."

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